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Bacterial Quorum Sensing

Summary

Understand how quorum sensing works by reasoning through experiments involving genetically-engineered bioluminescent bacteria.

Vibrio harveyi is a marine bacteria that emits light only at high population density. The bacterial bioluminescence is controlled by a system called quorum sensing. In this system, signaling molecules are secreted, and when they bind to cell surface receptors, they turn on many genes, including those that produce bioluminescence.

Also featured on the HHMI DVD, Exploring Biodiversity: The Search for New Medicines, available free from HHMI.

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